Book Review: The Condo Kids

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Last year my oldest son brought home a fire safety pamphlet he received at school when the fire department did an informational visit. I laughed when I saw the basic ‘what to do in event of fire’ safety steps spelled out and illustrated for kids. The pamphlet showed a rancher style house. I don’t think any of my son’s classmates that year lived in a detached home; most of them lived in condos and a few in townhouses. Most of the kids in our neighbourhood have never lived in a detached house and likely will never live in a detached house. Yet, fire safety pamphlets and, the point of this post, most kid’s books assume that we all live in a suburban neighbourhood in a house. This frustrates me.

My children read stories about kids with backyards and their own bedroom that live on quiet streets. We live in a loud part of the city, they sleep three to a room and our backyard is a little courtyard sixteen floors down that we share with the hundreds of other people living in our building. We love all the great things about city living – we can walk to EVERYTHING, great parks and the seawall a few blocks away – but it’s certainly hard to keep that in mind when every book we read shows all the perks of suburban living (and none of the downsides like Billy spends two hours a day in the car!).

So I was excited to hear about a new book series Jackie Burns has started called The Condo Kids. Jackie is a condo parent herself to two boys and her family lives in a condo in Toronto. I connected with Jackie and requested a review copy of The Condo Kids first book and Jackie was kind enough to send one to me. We recently read the book over three nights to our two, four and seven year old.

My kids were pretty excited about this book before we even read it. We were finishing up another chapter book and they had to wait a few days until we started The Condo Kids. I told them what the book was about and they were anxious to start reading it.

Kids. In Condos. My middle kid kept saying “just like us!” whenever they talked about elevators, living in the city and condo pools. They liked and I loved this ‘normal’ look at kids living in apartments. Living in a condo isn’t treated as an oddity or something that makes the kids special – it’s just where they live. It’s as normal to share a room with your brother

The book takes a bit of a fantastical turn when the kids sheep-nap a Barbary sheep from the zoo. Hilarity ensues of course and my kids did indeed think stowing a sheep in a condo was hilarious.

There is an 80s laissez faire parenting style to the book that I found refreshing and also lent to the magical adventure of the story. These kids have their own apartment keys and can roam wherever they like. Hopefully my kids won’t start asking for the long leash these kids have going to the pool without a parent and walking to the grocery store solo (that last one is coming sooner in our family than the unsupervised pool time).

Here’s my condo kids playing a recent at home game of piggyback your brother and fall into a pile of pillows:

This book would be great for a young reader of 8+ and was a nice short chapter book with illustrations to read together as a family. We’re already looking forward to the second book in the series that comes out this fall. Thanks Jackie!

 

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  • Fun!
    Corduroy goes home to an apartment. Curious George lives in an apartment building with a doorman. “The Snowy Day” is a Caldecott winner with a boy that lives in an apartment (I remember the reference to a friend “across the hall”). Those are the first apartment books from our collection that come to my mind. I do appreciate stories that show different types of living environments.

    • Love these suggestions – thank you! We have a big book of Curious George stories but he lives in a house in all of them. Now you have me thinking they aren’t the original stories. Off to get some vintage George from the library :)